Thursday, April 30, 2009
1998 was a big year for the Oscars. It pitted Spielberg, going all out to win Best Picture for his WWII flick Saving Private Ryan, against the Mirimax machine trying to sneak away with the major prize for Shakespeare in Love. Added into the mix was the first film for 20 years by America auteur Terrence Malik with his take on WWII with The Thin Red Line, also the was the funny holocaust movie Life is Beautiful, the prescient The Truman Show and the history of Elizabeth.
It was a good year for films, but mostly a bad year for the Oscars.
Best Picture: Shakespeare in Love
Nominees: Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line, Life is Beautiful, Elizabeth
Shakespeare in Love gets a pretty bum rap nowadays. Mostly because of the view that Mirimax stole the Oscar from Saving Private Ryan. To which I say, bullshit. Saving Private Ryan is the most over-rated piece of crap ever committed to celluloid. The film purports to treat war realistically, and yet the whole thing is a crock.
Apparently told by flashback, it is only at the end we discover we have been viewing the film through the eyes of Private Ryan. Which is ok, except Ryan doesn't come on the scene until two thirds of the way through the damn film, so God knows how he knew about the deaths of all those people on Omoha beach when he was a paratrooper. If you're going to tell a story it has to at least make logically sense.
It was also supposed to show how random death in war is, and yet in the end Captain Tom Hanks gets killed by the same German soldier who not an hour earlier in the film he had let go out of an act of kindness. Yep just like in the real war.
Plus every solider in the platoon looks to have been picked to ensure every single ethnic group (apart from blacks) is represented. Just like in real life.
Yeah the first half hour landing on Normandy is amazing; but that isn't the whole film. And the greatness of that 30 minutes is more than cancelled out by the last hour.
I hate the film because it lies to us. It told us (and remember the ad campaign) that this is the real thing - you were almost recommended to seek a doctor's certificate before watching the film. And then you find out its just the same old Hollywood horseshit. Screenwriter William Goldman called this film for the crock it was when he was making his choices for the Oscars of that year. I agree with him all the way.
Into the same basket of vomit, you can put Life is Beautiful. Manipulative and stupid - a heartwarming comedy movie about the holocaust? Give me a break.
Elizabeth? Excellent acting, but the history of the film is pretty bad, and while I don't mind a few liberties taken, it took too many for mine.
None of those three would even get nominated in my world.
The Thin Red Line? There's lots I love about the film - it is poetic, beautifully shot and some of the battle scenes are as gripping as any on film. But geez, would it hurt to have a narrative? And what the hell is George Clooney doing appearing only in the last minute? I would love to see the film with all the stuff that was left on the cutting room floor. It is the epitome of a flawed masterpiece.
If it had a more coherent narrative (and having read the book, I can tell you it is an incredibally loose adaptation) and less a sense that Malik wanted it to go for another hour I would be tempted to give it the Oscar. But as it stands I can't give it the award (even though it has a great score by Hans Zimmer).
This made-for-youtube trailer highlights a lot of what was great about it:
The big film missing from the nominations list is The Truman Show. I love this film and it is my runner up for Best Picture. The main reason for its brilliance is Peter Weir. He is one of the few great artists of the film world going around. In the mid 1990s, film magazine Movieline did a list of things Hollywood should do. One of them was "let Peter Weir do whatever he wants". This was the film that he wanted to do and it is brilliantly done.
The premise is excellent, the acting by all is top drawer - Jim Carrey showed he could act (much as Robin Williams did in Weir's earlier film Dead Poets Society), and it has a great score by Burkhard Dallwitz (wuth a big assist from Philip Glass). I'll write more about this film next week.
Two other less critically acclaimed films would make my list of nominees for that year. The first is the great comedy There's Something About Mary. In a time where the screens are filled with gross-out comedies like Superbad and Knocked Up (God I hated that film), it's easy to forget just how sweet this, the grandfather of all gross out comedies, was - and also just how damn funny. I had put off seeing this film because everyone I knew told me that it was the funniest thing they had ever seen. I was sure it could not possibly be, but decided to go along and give it a go. Well damn it contained more "I nearly wet myself laughing" moments than I had experienced for many a long day.
There was also the genius of having Jonathon Richman as the troubadour popping up after every act to provide a Greek chorus style commentary. And seriously how good was Cameron Diaz in this? Obviously there wasn't a lot of acting required, but there aren't many actresses who can do a scene with semen hair gel and still come across as the hottest girl you've ever met. Easily her best role (which admittedly doesn't say a real lot).
Sure it's not "Oscar material", but heck it was funny, it was popular, and it has been more influential than any of the other films nominated that year.
My other nominated film would be my equal favourite film of the year - and the one I've probably seen the most thanks to Channel 10's love of repeats.
Stephen Soderbergh's Out of Sight was great film making, with a great cast and screenplay working perfectly in sync.
It's hard now to think that at the time JLo was just Jennifer Lopez, and could be considered an actress rather than a headline. She was perfectly cast in this film, and works brilliantly with Clooney.
The supporting cast is amazing - Dennis Farina, Ving Rhames, Albert Brooks, Don Cheadle, and the perfect Steve Zahn all work together in perfect sync.
But the real winner of the film is George Clooney. This was the film in which he worked out that he was a film star. Prior to this his film acting was lacking something - like he didn't know if he was up to carrying a film, or whether he should be back playing Dr Doug Ross. Here's the four films he did before this role - From Dusk Till Dawn, Batman and Robin, One Fine Day and The Peacemaker. Now I actually like The Peacemaker, but even there he still seems to be a TV star lost in celluloid. But here he commands the screen. It's little wonder he has returned to work with Soderbergh so often, because the guy obviously taught him how to act on the big screen.
After this film his next 4 leading roles were in Three Kings, O Brother Where Art Thou? The Perfect Storm and Ocean's 11. Think there were any doubts about whether he could carry a film after those?
It's a good film done brilliantly. Intelligent, adult and fun. Why shouldn't it be nominated for best picture? After all back in 1941 The Maltese Falcon was nominated - why do we need to be so snobby now? Just look at how Soderbergh shoots this love scene - it is top drawer film making:
But the winner? I'm staying with Shakespeare in Love. Another film with a great cast in which every actor seems to know that they're in something special and is determined not to stuff it up.
Sure Gwyneth is a weak link - but she certainly doesn't destroy the film. Joseph Fiennes for one brief moment acts as well as his older brother, Ben Affleck has fun with his role, Rupert Everitt is Kit Marlowe, Colin Firth is marvelously up himself, and Geoffrey Rush is just amazing. For something fun, watch this and Elizabeth back to back, and besides seeing that Cate Blanchette could act Gwyneth under the table, you'll also notice how brilliant is Rush - few others could play a bumbling fool and a Machiavellian politician so believably.
The film is a delight - yeah sure it plays pretty lose with the order and timing of Shakespeare's plays, but it matters not a jot because there is no attempt to pretend this is real - it is a beautiful romp.
Best of all, after seeing this film I want to read Shakespeare - the guy seems real. Before this, even though I loved reading Shakespeare, I always thought of him as the old guy you see in the only portrait of him. Here he is young and dashing. This film made Shakespeare as accessible as any of the modernised versions that get made.
It had also had great score and witty script. The biggest oddity of the film is that the director John Madden would go on to do so little.
But so what? This film is still great entertainment, and, for mine, it keeps the Best Picture Oscar. The first 10 minutes gives a great taste of the whole:
There's still a lot of work left to fix this year, so I'll have to split it into a couple parts. I'll get onto the actors and directors next week.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Apparently the usual reason you find yourself with a song running through your head is because you have only heard a part of it, and your brain subconsciously keeps trying to complete it.
But when it comes to a song being associated with a year, you have to have heard that song completely, and much more than once. You still don't have to particularly like it.
And so it is with my 1988 song, The Choirboys "Run to Paradise".
1988 was when I did Year 12, and in the first week the entire class went on a camp to bond. This was about as dumb an idea as you could ever come up with given I went to school in a small country town where 97% of the class had been together since Grade 1.
We'd spent 11 years bonding, and had well and truly worked out who we did and did not wish to bond with. We knew who had gone out with who since Grade 5. We knew who had beaten up who in Grade 6. We knew who had got busted for smoking in Grade 7. We knew more about each other than we did about our families.
However, our teachers thought we really needed to get to know each other, and thus were forced to spend a week together doing "trusting games" (if memory serves me right a few people hit the floor instead of falling safely back into the arms of their team mates) and group activities that required completing a task without the use of one of our senses.
This served to ensure that when we got back to school the next week we would definitely continue to bond only with those people we had previously wanted to bond with, and were able to set our previous thoughts on other people in the most rock solid concrete. Nothing like waste of time to start Year 12, I guess - though it did help set the pattern for the rest of the year for me.
We also had to answer questionnaires that attempted to reveal things about us. Fortunately there was one new kid, so all 45 of us had an answer to the question "Who do you want to get to know better?". (And of course at least 42 of us didn't bother).
We were staying at a youth camp-site on the Murray River, with everyone sharing a cabin with 5 others. The cabin next to mine was full of guys who had ensured at least one had brought along his boom box. It was pretty cool - a double tape deck of the type that had a soft eject, it had high speed dubbing capacity, and a 5 band graphic equalizer. It also required about eight D size batteries than ran out pretty quickly if anyone dared use the fast forward button.
Unfortunately the most favoured song by the lads in that cabin was "Run to Paradise". And so like most 16 year olds, they played their favourite song over and over. And over. And over. And over. And over. And over. And over.
You see the owner had cleverly taped the song back to back on one whole side of a blank tape. So for 45 minutes without pause the Choirboys could be heard blaring out across the camp ground.
I liked the song for the first 5 or 6 listens.
By the end of the week I was ready to kill every person in the entire camping ground should the initial shout of Mark Gable singing "Baby!" be heard coming out of any speakers.
And thus despite the fact I liked other songs in 1988 - "Desire" by U2, "Got My Mind Set On You" by George Harrison, "Never Tear Us Apart" by INXS or the sadly underrated "She's Like the Wind" by Patrick Swayze (ahem...ummm err...ok people, move along nothing more to see here), when I think of 1988 it's the damn Choirboys, and even 21 years has done little to dull the memory.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
The “Maybe I was Harsh” Category.
Dustin Fletcher (will be 300+ games, 2xAA, 2x Premiership)
Close your eyes. Your side is playing Essendon. Your full forward looks set to take a mark 25m out straight in front. If like you’re like me you’re also seeing a long gangly arm come though at the last minute to make a spoil. Fletcher was a great full back, who excelled at being bloody annoying – like all good full backs.
Simon Goodwin (243 Games, 4xAA, 2 x Premiership, 3x CC)
Really, Goodwin should be in. Hasn’t played as many games as Brent Harvey or Brad Johnson, but certainly as good.
Matthew Scarlet (211 Games, 4xAA, 1 x Premiership, 1xCC)
Fullback of the decade – give him another 3 seasons and he’ll be a motza for the Hall.
Warren Tredrea (250+ games, 500+ goals, 4xAA, 1x Premiership, 3xCC)
Tredrea has his knockers, but he has kicked more goals than Dermott Brereton, Alex Jesaulenko or Gary Lyon, and 4 all-Australians in row as centre-half forward can’t be ignored
The “Could Go Either way” Category
Tyson Edwards (will be 300+ Games, 2x Premiership)
Edwards has been Mr Dependable for the Crows, and is certainly one of those players most supporters would like in their side. But no all-Australian, no club champion medal, means he’ll have to get through on the basis of longevity and consistency. To be honest there’s a few others I’d vote for before him.
Michael O’Loughlin (possible 300 Games, 2xAA, 1xPremiership)
A player who could go mad and win a game, and then also go missing, But if he gets to 300 games, with the 2 all-Australians, you had to say he’s more likely than not to get in (I mean Dean Kemp is in the Hall...)
Adam Simpson (possible 300 Games, 1xAA, 2x Premiership)
Another player who if he gets in will be more on the basis of longevity than brilliance.
The “Will Need Kind Thoughts and Prayers to Get in” Category.
Scott Lucas (256 Games, 450+ goals, 2xCC, 1x Premiership)
The lack of an all-Australian selection hurts, and he looks like finishing up this year. 500 goals would put him in.
Brendan Fevola (2xAA, poss 700+ Goals)
Fev has only kicked 501 goals, but given his penchant for kicking goals he could get to 700. If he does it’d be hard to keep him out. (But that is a big “if”)
Barry Hall (242 games, 3xAA, 588 goals, 1xCC, 1x Premiership)
Hall has had a damn good career by any measure. Hall of Fame though? Maybe – might want to play another season at least. In roughly the same amount of games Saverio Rocca kicked 748 goals, so perhaps Barry is not quite up to the Hall level...
Now the fun part.
The “Wouldn’t get my Vote” Category
Shane O’Bree (220 games)
Sure he might get to 300 games, but he won’t get to the Hall.
Leo Barry (234 games, 2xAA)
Hmm, a close one. I’d leave him out – his mark in the 2005 Grand Final should be in the Hall, but not him.
Luke Power (222 games, 1xAA, 3xPremierships),
Lots of premierships, but he lacks the numbers of all-Australian selections of Voss, Black or Akermanis.
Anthony Rocca (412 goals, 1xColeman)
I’d put his older brother in the Hall well before I’d bother considering this Rocca.
And the rest of those I’d leave out:
Daniel Bradshaw (500+Goals, 2xPrem), Chad Cornes (2xAA, 200+ games) though if he plays 300+ I’ll think again, Darren Millburn (250+, 1xAA), Brendan Lade (2xAA), Darren Glass (2xAA) only 171 games, so there’s time for him to get there, Tom Harley (captain Prem, 1xAA), Joel Corey (181 games, 2xAA) – was drafted the same year as Pavlich and Jonathon Brown, and would need to get close to 300 games to be considered, Steven Johnson (1x Norm Smith, 2xAA), is still youngish so is a chance to add to his trophy cabinet – but winning a Norm Smith isn’t an automatic entry, Joel Bowden (258 games, 2xAA, 2xCC), he might be handicapped by playing for Richmond so maybe I’m being harsh, Kane Johnson (220 games, 2x prem, 1xCC) meh he should’ve stayed with the Crows.
The “Keep Going, You’re on the Way There” Category
Luke Hodge (137 games, 1x Norm Smith, 2xAA, 1xCC)
The trophy cabinet is looking good. Let’s hope for longevity.
Joel Selwood (50 games, 1xAA, Rising Star)
Number 7 in the 2006 Draft; bet at least 5 clubs are feeling stupid.
Bryce Gibbs (48 games)
Carlton however would still be pretty happy with Gibbs as their number 1 pick. He looks the goods for a 300 game career, and a full trophy cabinet.
Lance Franklin (86 games, 254 goals, 1xAA, 1xColeman, 1x Premiership, 1xCC)
After 86 games he’s already a superstar but the key will be how long he keeps it up for. Since 2007 he has averaged 3.88 goals a game, keep that up for 150 more games and he’s looking at 800+ goals (top 10 all-time).
Jarryd Roughead (88 games, 149 goals, 1x Premiership)
With Franklin could be one of the all-time great partnerships. Since 2007 he’s averaged 2.5 goals a game. Keep that up for another 150 games and he’ll have 500+ goals (more than Dermot Brereton).
Adam Cooney (115 games, 2008 Brownlow, 1xAA)
A Brownlow after so few games. The trick though is whether he is a Scott West or Shane Woewodin.
So now with all the current players out of the way (or at least on the ballot under my system) , that would leave the Hall of Fame "History Committee" to decide on all the pre-1990 players who should be on. Let me give them a few parochial hints:
Peter Carey (467 games !!!, 2xAA, 3xCC)
Seriously, how easy a decision is this??
Michael Aish (307 games, 2xAA, 1x Magery Medal, 4xCC)
One of the great "would've liked to see how well he would've played in the VFL" players.
Garry McIntosh (371 games, 2x Magery Medalist, 1x highest vote winner in Magery Medal, 5xCC)
I have absolutely no doubt he would have ruled the VFL, but nevertheless, he still should be in the Hall.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Howard Hawks is almost my favourite director; so many great films - Bringing up Baby, Only Angels Have Wings, His Girl Friday, To Have and Have Not, Red River, Rio Bravo, El Dorado, Hatari! Sergent York and Gentleman Prefer Blondes.
To explain just how great he was, among that list is one of the all-time great screwball comedies (Bringing Up Baby), three great films starring Cary Grant (His Girl Friday, Bringing Up Baby, Only Angels Have Wings), two films that put Bogart and Bacall together (The Big Sleep and To Have and Have Not), three of the greatest westerns starring John Wayne (Red River, Rio Bravo, El Dorado), the film that gave Montgomery Clift his first starring role (Red River), the film that won Gary Cooper his first Oscar (Sergeant York), and the film that had Marylin Monroe singing "Diamonds are Forever" (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes).
That, my friends, is a career.
Now the trivia question - how many Oscars did he win?
None. Even worse, he only got nominated once. In 1975 the Academy finally slapped itself in the head and gave him an Honorary Oscar. But he surely rates with Hitchcock as the most overlooked director in history.
The Big Sleep is my favourite of his films. It is beautiful noir - all shadows and mood. Bogart as Marlowe is movie perfection - even better than he was as the other great hard-boiled detective Sam Spade in the 1941 film The Maltese Falcon.
The best thing about the film is the great script by William Faulkner and Leigh Brackett which keeps closely to Raymond Chandler's novel. It ensured great lines remained that must have actors of today drooling over in envy:
Carmen Sternwood: You're cute.
Philip Marlowe: I'm getting cuter every minute.
General Sternwood: How do you like your brandy, sir?
Philip Marlowe: In a glass.
Vivian: I don't like your manners.
Marlowe: And I'm not crazy about yours. I didn't ask to see you. I don't mind if you don't like my manners, I don't like them myself. They are pretty bad. I grieve over them on long winter evenings. I don't mind your ritzing me drinking your lunch out of a bottle. But don't waste your time trying to cross-examine me.
Marlowe is hired by the rich, invalid General Sternwood to fix a blackmail scam against his youngest daughter Carmen. Along the way he matches wits with the elder daughter Mrs Rutledge and finds the blackmail scam is the lid on a can of worms that involves pornography, murder, kidnapping, gambling and God knows what else (in fact the plot is pretty confusing - but don't worry if it doesn't seem to make sense - to worry about such things is to completely miss the point).
The film was made soon after Bogart and Bacall lit up the screen in To Have and Have Not and Warner Bros were desperate to get them together again. The first cut of the film was disappointing - Bacall for some bizarre reason wears a veil. It was quickly re-shot with an added scene of Bogart and Bacall together.
The final version is magic.
It's a great film that can be watched numerous times. The supporting cast is marvelous, and features my favourite bit part actor Elisha Cook Jr.
So check it out, and see if you can work out who killed Owen Taylor, the Sternwoods' chauffeur, because neither Hawks, Faulkner, Brackett nor even Raymond Chandler knew.
Below is the scene that was shot to give Bogart and Bacall more time to sizzle:
Gary Ablett Jr made it two weeks in a row getting 40+ possessions. To put that in some context, Mark Ricciuto had only one 40+ game in his entire career, Brent Harvey also has only done it once. The following have never had a 40+ game: Michael Voss, Andrew McLeod, Simon Black, James Hird, Ben Cousins, or Chris Judd. Ablett this season is averaging 37.8 possessions a match.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
The thing about the Hall of Fame is that it shouldn’t be the Hall of the Very Good; it has to be for only those who were in the top echelon of players. In academia when awarding PhDs, those which are considered to be among a theoretical top 5% of PhD theses are awarded it 'cum laude'. Those in the Hall of Fame should be considered much the same – among the top 5 percent of those against whom they played.
So with 22 players selected in 16 teams, that means 352 players are going around each week. Five percent of that is around 17; so that’s a nice marker for us to work with (though obviously it’s not an ironclad set amount).
How do you judge the best of the best? Brownlow Medals are good, but does anyone really think Shane Woewodin should be in the Hall of Fame? All Australian selection is almost a prerequisite – if you weren’t ever considered the best in your own position it’s hard to see how you should be considered among the best ever.
But often it comes down to what you felt when you saw the player – either playing for your team or against. When Gavin Brown was selected I scoffed to a mate of mine (who is a Collingwood supporter) that he hardly deserved membership. He replied that he was the soul of Collingwood in the 90s, was a great all-round player yada yada. I replied that when the Crows ever played Collingwood I never wondered, "How the hell are we going to stop Brown"? I never thought, "Gee I wish we had Brown playing for us".
And such thoughts are crucial to looking at the Hall of Fame. If you were wondering how your team was going to beat a guy, or even while abusing the guy you had to admit that deep down you wish he was playing for you, then we’re getting close to a Hall of Famer. Of course a Hall of Famer keeps that level for a long time.
Longevity is a key for getting in the Hall of Fame. If you played less than 200 Games, then you better have been brilliant for 180 of them. But does playing 300 Games get you in the Hall? I think not. You’ve already got life membership, but it doesn’t mean you were the best of the best. Though in modern times as the ability to keep going for so long gets harder and harder, I’ll wager that those who do play 300 games are more than likely going to be the type of player who would be in the Hall anyway.
But enough introduction! Let’s get to it.
The “Why Are We Even Debating This?” Category
Andrew McLeod (300+ Games, 2 Norm Smith Medals, 2001 MVP, 5x All-Australian, 2 x Premierships, 3x Club Champion)
McLeod has done everything you can do in footy excepting win the Brownlow (and let’s be honest I doubt even Jason Akermanis believes he deserved to beat McLeod in 2001). He is the personification of the “how are we going to stop...” player. A guy who could win a game on his own boot, and who seemed to thrive on the biggest stage. That even at this point in his career, as Collingwood found out in Round 1, he can still carve up an opposition is testament to his longevity. Will get in as soon as he is eligible.
Matthew Lloyd (250+ games, 899 goals - 8th best all time, 5xAA, 3xColeman, 2x100+ goals in a season )
Lloyd is a player of whom it is easy to forget just how good he is. He never kicked massive totals like Locket or Dunstall or Ablett, but he played in a different era – a time when the full forward almost seemed in danger of becoming extinct. But think of this - he averages 3.5 goals a game, the next best current player is Buddy Franklin with an average of 2.96. And the real mark of Lloyd as Hall of Fame material is that you always feared he would kick a bag against you and most often he did – he has kicked 5+ goals in a match 82 times – the 8th most of any player ever. He’s in.
Ben Cousins (200+ games, 2005 Brownlow, 2005 MVP, 6xAA, Rising Star Award, 1x Premiership, 4xCC)
Look, I am no fan of Cousins. I think he was juiced up to the eyeballs when he came out at half time in the 2006 prelim final and tore through the Crows. But I tell you this now, anyone who wins the MVP Award, the Brownlow, and is also a 6 times all-Australian goes straight into the Hall of Fame. The other barometer? I hated him because he always seemed to kill us – and I’m betting there are a few supporters of other teams who think exactly the same.
Adam Goodes (200+ games, 2003, 2006 Brownlow, 2xAA, 1x Premiership, 2x CC, RS)
OK, winning one Brownlow can be put down to luck and happenstance. But twice? That takes talent, and it has you walking straight into the Hall.
The “Now that is a Career – Get Your Speech Ready” Category
Simon Black (200+ games, 2002 Brownlow, 3xAA, 1xNorm Smith, 3 x Premiership, 3xCC)
Black was part of the fab four that made Brisbane the most feared team of the early 2000s. Perhaps not as rugged as Michael Voss, and not as flashy as Akermanis he was still someone you wouldn’t have minded having in your team. In fact he is just the archetypal player who does his job without any fuss – except he did it brilliantly. A great handballer and tackler (he is ranked 5th all-time among players with games with 5 or more tackles.), if you’re leaving him out, you might as well kick out 70 per cent of those already in.
Jason Akermanis (will be 300+ games, 2001 Brownlow, 4xAA, 3 x Premierships, 2xCC)
If Black gets in, you have to let in Akermanis. OK, I hardly count his Brownlow, but the fact is the reason opposition supporters have hated Akermanis for so long is because the bastard could rip you apart and do it while seeming to be showboating.
Brad Johnson (300+ games, 5xAA, 3xCC)
Johnson is a true stalwart of the game. Never as good as his long-time teammate Scott West, but five All-Australian selections demonstrate that he was no passenger.
Brent Harvey (poss 300+ games, 4xAA, 1 x premiership, 3x CC)
Boomer Harvey is the type of player everyone wishes was in their side. Honest, tough and chock-full of skill. His best ever game was maybe in the last real State of Origin match in 1999 when he destroyed South Australia. Four time All-Australian plus close to 300 games should see him in the Hall.
Matthew Richardson (280+ games, 799 goals - 11th all-time, 2xAA, 1xCC)
Has there ever been a player more maligned for not being as good as everyone thinks he should be? If he kicks 18 more goals he goes 10th all time. You can’t leave someone like that out of the Hall of Fame. Though to be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if he has to wait a year or two.
The “Even if You Never Play Another Game” Category
Gary Ablett Jr (150 games, 2007, 2008 MVP, 2xAA, 1x Premiership, 1xCC)
By the time he finishes, the phrase 'Greatest of All-Time' will be used in any discussion of his place in AFL history. Only he and Voss have won the MVP two years in a row. The way Ablett is playing, he’d be odds on to make it three in row this season.
Chris Judd (159 games, 2004 Brownlow, 2006 MVP, 1xNorm Smith, 3xAA, 1x Premiership, 3xCC)
Unfortunately his stacks of injuries has slowed his pace, and mean he’s not on Ablett’s level at the moment. But everyone has wished he was on their side since he was first drafted. And from 2005-2008 was first picked in anyones Dream team. Truly one of the best of the best.
Matthew Pavlich (198 games, 6xAA, 5xCC)
There aren’t many certainties in life, but six times All-Australians getting in the Hall of Fame is one of them. Pavlich has perhaps been guilty of, like Richardson, not being as good as everyone expects (which means he doesn’t win every game for Fremantle off his own boot). But compare him with fellow 1999 draftee Jonathon Brown. Pavlich has more games, goals and all-Australian appearances (Brown only has one). And get this – he is the only person to have been named All Australian full back and full forward. That takes some special skill. (Though he would have done it all better had he worn a Crows guernsey...).
The “At this Rate they Would be a Shock to Miss” Category
Nick Riewoldt (162 games, 1xMVP, 3xAA, RS,4xCC)
I’m probably being a bit hard - Riewoldt probably doesn’t need to play another game, but a 100 more games and a 150-200 more goals will make him a certainty.
Jonathan Brown (164 games, 3xPrem, 2x most courageous, runner-up MVP, 1x Coleman, 1xAA, 2x CC)
Like Riewoldt you’d want him to play a few more games to make sure of his getting in the Hall. He has only kicked 350 goals. Wayne Carey, with whom he is often compared, kicked 727. Brown is expected to get in the Hall, but if he stopped playing now, you’d think only of the wasted talent.
Dean Cox (170 games, 4xAA, 1 x Premiership, 1xCC)
The ruckman of the decade will be shoo-in in his first year of eligibility if he gets to 250 games.
Jimmy Bartel (137 games, 1x Brownlow, 1 x Premiership, 2xAA)
He’s played a season fewer games than Ablett or Judd, so time is on his side, but his trophy cabinet already looks good. And he is defiantly a player you know you have to worry about.
Now that's 16 players. Next week I’ll do Part 2 – those players with over 200 games who should get over the line, those who should get over the line with kind thoughts and prayers, and those who I’d leave out. Plus those with under 100 games who are most likely.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Does anyone know how the players are selected? A committee of I’m not sure how many decides. If that isn’t pathetic then I don’t know what is. A committee? What a joke.
In America the sports halls of fame are massive. In Major League Baseball and the NFL you only need to say a player is headed to Cooperstown or Canton, and the sport public knows that means they’re headed to the Hall of Fame.
The induction days are huge affairs with speeches made at the respective halls in front of the public, not in front of a load of invited guests at the Crown casino.
During games commentators will refer to players as “future Hall of Famer...”. In the AFL the best they do is call someone “one of the superstars of the game”, or once they have retired “an ornament to the game”.
The situation really needs fixing. First off, the AFL needs to build a freaking Hall! (And if they have already, how about advertising the fact!). It should be like the war memorial for footy. It should be a step back in time. It should be a place full of reverence for the game. It should damn well be a tourist attraction!
[UPDATE someone told my wife today they had recently been to the AFL Hall of Fame which is in the National Sports Museum attached to the MCG. They said it was great. The fact that I haven't even heard of this place despite really wanting to go to such a museum, suggests to me the AFL really needs to work on its marketing]
But to really get some credibility they have to ditch the committee system. In Major League Baseball, players are voted into the Hall of Fame by an organisation known as the “Baseball Writers Association of America” (BBWAA) which consists of journalists from newspapers, magazines and a few from the web.
Each year they vote on the eligible players. Any player who gets voted by over 75% of the voters gets in. Less than 5% and you’re gone. If a player doesn’t get 75% he goes on the ballot the following year (and can stay on the ballot for up to 15 years after which time if they haven’t got over 75% they’re dumped).
The system is thus relatively open, and everyone knows who is being considered. The votes are revealed, and everyone gets to talk about who missed out, who made it and why etc etc. It’s great for baseball and would be great for the AFL – imagine if every October the week after the Grand Final there was the vote for the Hall of Fame. If would have the radio talk shows and newspapers still full of AFL news – surely something the AFL would like.
Now you need a good sample of voters, and there aren’t enough AFL writers in Australia, so I propose the Hall of Fame voters become more like the Academy Awards voters. So the people who get to vote are:
- all living members of the Hall of Fame,
- any coach who has coached over 150 games in the AFL
- any umpire with over 250 games
- 5 members from each of the TV networks (including Foxtel – it is up to the network to nominate who – must not be eligible players)
- 3 writers from each of the major newspapers in the capital cities (must not be eligible players)
- 3 commentators/journos from each of the radio stations with broadcasting rights (must not be eligible players)
- 5 officials from the AFL
- 3 officials each from the state based comps
- the chairman and a selected board member from each AFL club
That should get the number up near 100. Also those nominated by the media organisations or clubs are that organisation's nominee until that person no longer works for or is associated with the organisation – ie you can’t change it every year – we want some continuity.
Now to the ballot. Those eligible for nomination are any player who has not been on an AFL list for 3 years and who has played at least 50 premiership games. I would have gone for 100 games, but given John Coleman only played 98, I figure you have to take account of the freaks of the sport.
Best of all that would mean the ballot would throw up a few names that people would have forgotten which would produce more discussion – “geez Lance Piccione played 58 games for Hawthorn?” It would also ensure a pretty healthy ballot each year – not much point doing it if you only get 3 names to choose from.
Voters would only be able to pick 4 names (though they may pick less or even none) – you gotta make it hard. And players would need to be picked on at least 75% of the ballots to get in.
Would it work? I think so. It sure beats the hell out of a dozen old farts sitting around a boardroom deciding whether or not to induct Gary Ablett or Wayne Carey. In this process it would be up to the voters – if more than 75% think he should be voted in in the first year he was eligible, well then in he goes.
Voters for these things don’t need to sit around a room to take into account “other issues” and come to some sort of bogus consensus. If you look at the vote for the MLB Hall of Fame last year, Mark McGwire was eligible and normally would have got in without any problems. But because of all the steroid scandals he only got 23.6% of the vote. (And you know what – the vote and the results generated heaps of media).
At the moment people on the committee are all cagey about whether or not they agreed with the decision, was so and so considered etc. With this system, none of that. A person can say I voted for Joe Blog and say why (if they want) and there is no right or wrong. If a player gets the votes, he’s in, and if he gets less than 5% he's out. It’s democratic, and I think it’s a winner.
And look you could keep a committee to consider every other year voting in two players who have missed out in the process - ie those from the pre-AFL days and the SANFL/WAFL etc. It would be up to them to work out why Gary McIntosh is not in the Hall of Fame and yet Gavin Brown is...
I would also have the committee decide on 10 or 15 names each year to go on the ballot from post AFL time (ie 1990) who have played 100 games but who have not yet been put in the Hall - so you would get guys like Ang Christou, Shaun Rehn and Paul Couch on the ballot.
Sure many would not be likely to get voted in, but you don't think that would throw up some good discussions? Like would Rehn have got in the Hall of Fame if he hadn't been injured for two years? He missed around 40 games of his prime, which would have had his total up near 220 games. What about Paul Couch? Should he be in the Hall - he did win the Brownlow Medal in 1989 - should that be enough??
Don't know about you, but I hear the talk back calls ringing in loud and long.
And even if they don't get in, surely the AFL Hall of Fame should have some mention of Christou and the "woof", or that Rehn got the centre bounce disc removed. It's called history, and it would be a great thing to see.
And that is what the Hall of Fame should be about - getting the public thinking about footy, and remembering players and games from the past. What about Roger Merrett? The guy played 313 games, two premierships and was for many a year the heart and soul of the Brisbane Bears. Should he be in the Hall?
Surely the guy deserves at least to be on a ballot!
So enough of the system. Tomorrow I’ll get to the fun part – deciding who should be in the Hall. I’ll have a look at all current players in the AFL with over 50 games and decide who would get my vote.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
The big change was on the satisfaction ratings of the leaders. Rudd's went down from 68% to 66%. His dissatisfaction rating went up from 21% to 25%. His net-satisfaction rating is thus 41 (ie the gap between satisfaction and dissatisfaction).
Turnbull's satisfaction rating went down from 39% to 37%, and his dissatisfaction rating went up from 42% to 46%, meaning his net-satisfaction rating is now minus 9.
Possum Comitatus over at Crikey has this spiffy graph that shows the decline of Turnbull.
After a good recovery from the negative territory of Brendan Nelson, Turnbull has been falling ever since.
Of opposition leaders going back to Howard in 1985, only two have been able to get out of negative territory - Howard in 1996 who before the election bumped up and down between minus 11 and +9; and Beazley in 2001 who got back into slightly positive territory before the election (which he lost).
All the rest stayed in the negative, and all were deposed.
In the last month the Liberals have tried to get Rudd by attacking his China connection, his bad temper, and now have gone back to 2001 with the asylum seeker debate.
Nothing has made a dent
The Newspoll also asked about asylum seekers and which party was best to handle the issue:
That the Liberals aren't even seen as the ones best to handle this issue anymore shows just how far they have fallen. And the fact 33% don't really care also shows how little this issue rates in the real world.
A more telling question was that of whether stronger laws would reduce asylum seekers:
Which shows that the Australian public is not as dumb as the Liberals (and to an extent the ALP) thinks they are. They know that if the world numbers of asylum seekers goes up, then the numbers of those coming to Australia will go up.
So where to from here for the Liberals?
They can't kick out Turnbull yet. They have to wait until the Budget on 12 May, to see if the Govt does something terribly wrong. And then?
I still can't see Costello doing anything - he'll never challenge, and he won't take over until... well probably never (or unless he is guaranteed to win the election, which is not going to happen).
I'm waiting for Newspoll to start asking who would people prefer as leader - Turnbull or Hockey. Once that question is posed (and assuming Hockey wins or is at least equal), expect the real number crunching and back stabbing to begin (well ok, it has already started).
The good thing about Hockey is that he is seen by those in the party as a Costello man - and so Pete can be the power behind the thrown.
I don't think it'll do much good, but it has become blindingly obvious that the Australian people don't like Turnbull. They see him as standing for nothing except whatever will get him to be PM. This would be ok, except people don't even know why he wants to be PM.
I wonder if he even knows the answer to that question himself - other than he views it as a personal Everest which must be conquered to sate his ego.
Monday, April 20, 2009
You want to know a REAL cover-up? What about the Black Saturday bushfires? 173 people died. Australians, too, not wife-r-ping towelheads. Apparently some of those fires were deliberately lit. And months on, John Brumby and Kevin Rudd still haven’t told us what really happened and who was responsible.
What are they hiding?
What’s that? Something about coronial inquiries? Criminal investigations? Well, they WOULD say that, wouldn’t they.
Surely the Government is covering up SOMETHING about the explosion aboard the boat carrying dozens of Afghans last week. Maybe Helen Liu was involved. Or the bikies who entered the Lodge. There’s another cover-up. The Prime Minister hasn’t explained that either.
The incessant demands for the Government to reveal what happened aboard the vessel are absurd. There was an explosion. People died. Someone caused it, either accidentally or intentionally. Prosecutions may ensue. If and when someone on that boat is brought to trial for what occurred, the chances of a fair trial (in Darwin, despite Colin Barnett seeming to think this has some special West Australian significance) are diminished every time someone opens their mouth.
And if the explosion resulted because the people aboard thought they were going to be returned to Indonesia, what exactly does that demonstrate in relation to the Government’s handling of border protection, except that it is dealing with desperate, ignorant people?
What exactly is being covered up?
Bloody good question.
If the boat (now known as SIEV 36 (Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel) was purposefully set on fire by someone spreading petrol and lighting it, how does that affect the Government? Does Turnbull think there was a Government backbencher on board spreading the petrol he had bought with a union funded credit card??
Now if the boat exploded accidentally, how does that affect the Government? Again it doesn't.
Nothing the Government has done or not done caused anyone to try and blow up the boat.
It's like blaming the Government for someone trying to smuggle in an exotic bird, and the bird dying (or was it killed???) in customs.
And the opposition saying the Government should say what happened is like demanding a Government say how a car accident that killed 5 people happened and say there's a cover-up because one guy has said a person told him that someone said it looked like the driver was drunk.
Any sane person would say we should wait for the police to do their investigation. Well here 5 people have died and the police are doing an investigation.
The Liberals should shut up and let the police do their job.
Truth will out.
The only reason the Liberals want to keep talking about it now is because they think this is a winner. But let's look at what Turnbull said today about what the Liberals would do differently.
He has said they would bring back Temporary Protection Visas (or at least "put them at the top of the agenda"). Wow, they must have been great things. You know who first came up with them?
Ever heard of Pauline Hanson. Yep in 1998 One Nation policy was:
“temporary refuge for those who meet the UN definition of a refugee, with repatriation when the situation resolves”.
How did the Howard Government react?Philip Ruddock said they were:
“highly unconscionable in a way that most thinking people would clearly reject”. Temporary entry would mean “that people would never know whether they would be able to remain here. There would be uncertainty, particularly in terms of attention given to learning English, (and) in addressing the torture and trauma so they healed from some of the tremendous physical and psychological wounds they have suffered.”
As we now know, he changed his mind. The Howard Government brought them in, and the numbers of women and children attempting to come in by boat increased because the TPV's prevented spouses and children from joining refugees - so they came with instead. They also denied access to English language programs.
All they did was punish the refugees.
If Malcolm Turnbull wants to go back to that. Go for it. Well done Malcolm, it only took you 7 months as leader to sell your soul. You must be so proud. At least we all now know you're an empty suit.
And unfortunately for him, Kevin Rudd is a bloody smart politician. What does he do today? He tells us we're going to go into recession. Turnbull's response?
Mr Turnbull told ABC Radio's PM program the announcement at the Adelaide jobs fair was made at an interesting time.
"It is a classic Rudd tactic isn't it? It's a distraction," he said.
"He isn't able to provide Australians with the facts about the tragic events involving the unauthorised boat that blew up recently that had the tragic fire in which so many people were injured and three people were killed.
Yep, Turnbull is now on record as saying the economy is "a distraction".
So it's 49 boat people versus the economy and the global financial crisis.
Which do you think people really, really care about? Which issue do you really, really think people will be worried about when they vote at the next election?
Think carefully Malcolm...
I'll give you a clue. Bill Clinton never had a slogan saying "It's the boat people stupid".
Well after a great few weeks I picked only one winner this week (admittedly I went for the Crows only because I always do). Sydney, Hawthorn and Carlton are trying to make a case for being the tipper’s nightmare team of the year. Richmond supporters must once again wonder who cursed them when they were born. And Fremantle supporters must still be wondering if the main reason their side never wins is because the players hate having to sing the theme song.